Australia’s Olympic sailors descend on Hamilton Island
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Yesterday, August 21, the all conquering Australian Sailing Team flew into Hamilton Island to join sailors contesting Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, sponsors and team patrons for a tickertape parade and a series of special appearances.
Led by a group of 25 Hamilton Island State School students from prep to grade 7, the Olympians, with three gold and a silver medal between them, and officials fell in behind the children who had hand-made a banner which read, ‘welcome home 2012 Olympians’.
Gold medallists Tom Slingsby and Iain Jensen and coach Michael Blackburn led the procession along Front Street in the first Audi A5 Cabriolet followed by the gold medal pair of Malcolm Page, Mathew Belcher and AST head coach Victor Kovalenko in the second Audi.
Silver medallists, the Women’s Match Racing team of Olivia Price, Lucinda Whitty and Nina Curtis were chauffeured in the third car.
Other Olympic medalists at the tickertape parade included Belinda Stowell (Gold, Sydney 2000), Elise Rechichi (Gold, Beijing 2008), Michael Blackburn (Bronze, Sydney 2000) and John Bertrand (Silver, Los Angeles 1984). It is the most Olympic sailing medalists ever congregated in the one location outside of an Olympic venue, and it happened at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
With Race Week in full swing, it’s all about sailing on the resort island owned by the Oatley family. This was lost on six year-old Myles Gomez, a grade 1 student at the local school and son of an Island staff member. He had the opportunity to meet the team when they visited the school and asked one of the sailing medallists what it was like to win a gold medal in the javelin.
The procession led into a formal welcome by Island CEO Glenn Bourke, himself an Olympian and 2012 team selector, where the medallists were invited to speak about their London experience.
Retiring double gold medallist, Malcolm Page, thanked Bourke and AST patron Bob Oatley for giving the team the ‘opportunity to be at the capital of Australian sailing, Hamilton Island’.
Such is their commitment to the sailing family Nina Curtis spoke of later that evening that the athletes are missing an Olympic team parade that is being held tomorrow in Melbourne.
The entire team then signed hundreds of posters before their next stop, a cocktail party hosted by Audi Australia’s managing director, Uwe Hagen, together with Audi owners.
To congratulate the medallists for their success, Hagen announced that every sailing medallist from the team – eight in total – would have the opportunity to drive their ‘dream car’ for a month – including the Audi R8 sportscar ($270,000 +), eliciting a loud cheer from the crowd.
‘As a sponsor of this great team, we are pleased to see that the entire nation is now aware of how strong our sailing team is. This is now our opportunity to officially recognise they are the best in the world,’ Mr Hagen said at the event.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2012. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.
See Hamilton Island Race Week images
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 August 2012 )